The Dark Half (film)

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The Dark Half
Original 1993 theatrical poster
Directed byGeorge A. Romero
Screenplay byGeorge A. Romero
Based onThe Dark Half
by Stephen King
Produced byDeclan Baldwin
CinematographyTony Pierce-Roberts
Edited byPasquale Buba
Music byChristopher Young
Dark Half Productions
Distributed by
Release date
  • April 23, 1993 (1993-04-23)
Running time
121 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million
Box office$10.6 million[2]

The Dark Half is a 1993 American horror film adaptation of Stephen King's 1989 novel of the same name. The film was written and directed by George A. Romero and stars Timothy Hutton as Thad Beaumont and George Stark, Amy Madigan as Liz Beaumont, Michael Rooker as Sheriff Alan Pangborn, and Royal Dano in his final film.


An author of highbrow literary novels, Thad Beaumont (Timothy Hutton), is better known for the bestselling murder mystery suspense-thrillers he writes under the pen name "George Stark". Beaumont wishes to retire the Stark name and symbolically buries Stark in a mock grave.

However, Stark has mysteriously become a physical entity (also portrayed by Hutton) and begins terrorizing Beaumont's family and friends after he emerges from the grave. Stark then kills local photographer Homer Gamache and steals his truck. He then murders Thad's editor, agent, and his agent's ex-wife, and kills a man named Fred Clawson, who was trying to blackmail Thad for "being a con artist that should not have written books under a false name". Stark also kills at least one hotel desk clerk and several cops (two NYPD officers who were guarding one of his victims, two NYPD technicians who are killed when Stark sets up a bomb that kills another cop and leaves his partner completely deaf, and two Sheriff's deputies in Maine), and his off-story murder of a cocaine-using young woman who provided information on the Beaumont/Stark link--Stark tells Thad "I left some of her on the floor, the cops'll find the rest on the kitchen counter"--is so brutal that the characters don't state how she died.

When the police suspect Thad of murdering Gamache, he tries to convince Sheriff Alan Pangborn of Castle Rock, Maine that he had nothing to do with it. After putting an all-points bulletin on Clawson, who was accused of the death of Gamache, the New York police find him castrated and his throat slit. They find a message on the wall, written in Clawson's blood, "The sparrows are flying again." Thad starts to think that he may have a psychic connection to the killer.

While in his office, Thad begins to receive messages from Stark, and begins to worry about the next victim. He and his family start to receive threatening phone calls from Stark. Pangborn initially suspects the phone calls are a prank by Thad himself until Stark begins to describe how he is going to kill Thad's family, disturbing Pangborn.

State Police find Homer Gamache's truck with Thad's fingerprints all over it. For some reason, Stark wants to live in the material world, after only appearing in a set of Thad's best selling books. Thad writes, but he is not alone in suspecting something strange: Sheriff Pangborn is equally suspicious and continues investigating. Thad begins to realize that Stark is, in fact, his parasitic twin brother who died at "childbirth."

His mother never told Thad about the twin, and he was completely unaware until a local doctor tells him that Stark was a fraternal twin that was living inside Thad's brain. (A scene in the film's start shows a developing fetus inside Beaumont's brain). Stark arrives, kills the doctor, and blames Thad for the crime. Thad's colleague Reggie realizes that Stark is an entity controlled by the books that Thad wrote and that Stark will do anything he can to stop Thad. Stark kidnaps Thad's wife Liz and his children, and makes a deal with Thad: finish a book that depicts Stark living in the real world, or he will kill his family.

While writing the book, Thad notices Stark is healing himself with his writings, as Stark started to deteriorate due to Thad not writing anymore books, causing Thad to absorb his sickness. Thad and Stark get into a fight, which ends with Thad stabbing Stark in the neck with a pencil. Sheriff Pangborn arrives and unties Liz, who says that Thad and Stark are upstairs. However, a huge flock of sparrows arrive via a bird call Thad's friend and colleague Rawlie gave to him and tears Stark apart, taking him to the land of the dead. The sparrows are agents of Death that come to collect souls and carry them to their final destination. Thad and Liz are spared, and they, along with Pangborn, watch as the sparrows disappear into the night.



The film was filmed in part at Washington & Jefferson College, in Washington, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[3] Notable in the film are the chapel in the Old Main, seen at the beginning of the film as Beaumont's classroom, and the office of the college chaplain, used as Beaumont's office.[3] Members of the faculty and student body served as extras in the film.[4]

The residence featured in the film is a home located on Maple Avenue in the Edgewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The film was Romero's third foray into filming with the support of a major film production company (after Creepshow and Monkey Shines), causing some problems for the notoriously low-budget director.[4]

The film was shot from October 1990 until March 1991. It was not released for two years because of Orion Pictures' bleak financial situation at the time. The film eventually saw release in April 1993, taking in just over $10 million domestically.[5]


In its opening week The Dark Half ranked in the box office charts at number 6, gathering a total of $3,250,883 from 1,563 theatres.[6]

Critics gave the film mixed reviews, though they praised Timothy Hutton's performance in the film as well as the screenplay. On Rotten Tomatoes, it currently holds a 62% from 37 reviews with an average score of 5.9/10. The critics consensus reads, ”The Dark Half is a highly serious psychological study that can be faulted for being more curious than actually scary.” [7]

Roger Ebert gave the film two out of four stars, praising Hutton's against type performance as Stark that "definitively shed his nice-guy image". However, Ebert faulted The Dark Half for failing to "develop its preternatural opening theme" and never offering a satisfactory explanation for Stark's existence.[8]


  • Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films
    • Saturn Award Best Director - George A. Romero - Nominated
    • Saturn Award Best Horror Film - Nominated
    • Saturn Award Best Makeup - John Vulich, Everett Burrell - Nominated
    • Saturn Award Best Supporting Actress - Julie Harris - Nominated
  • Fantafestival
    • Best Actor - Timothy Hutton - Won
    • Best Film - George A. Romero - Won
    • Best Screenplay - Paul Hunt, Nick McCarthy - Won [9]

Related film[edit]

The Character of Alan Pangborn (Michael Rooker) would also appear in Needful Things based on the 1991 novel of the same name, where he is portrayed by Ed Harris. However, the film makes no reference to The Dark Half.


  1. ^ "The Dark Half (1993)". BBFC. Retrieved 9 January 2022.
  2. ^ "The Dark Half".
  3. ^ a b "W&J Up Close" (PDF). W&J Magazine. Washington & Jefferson College. Winter 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-04-09. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  4. ^ a b Winks, Michael (October 22, 1990). "Romero kicks off star-studded "Dark Half" here". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
  5. ^ The Dark Half (1993)
  6. ^ "Domestic 1993 Weekend 17".
  7. ^ "The Dark Half (1993)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 29, 2024.
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger, "The Dark Half,", 23 April 1993
  9. ^ Awards for The Dark Half at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata

External links[edit]